Picking the school you wish to attend after high school ranks high on the stress scale.
There are the top schools everyone looks to get into -- the ones you can say half your class will be attending. There are so many things to consider, but it really boils down to which place has what you need, is in your budget, and feels right.
Something else to consider is this: Even if no one you know goes to the college or university you're interested in, it's okay. It might even be better.
Those popular, close to home, community colleges or a big ten university will be crawling with people from your high school. Those who chose to attend them will know many people as they walk around campus, even if they don't see them every day. It's nice, sort of a safety net, but I think the best way to really start discovering what is out there is to start somewhere new.
The school I chose to attend a little over two years ago was Aquinas College.
I didn't know anyone besides my roommate in my class, and only recognized a couple names of upper class-men by association. Being at a school where you don't know anyone is refreshing.
You aren't surrounded by your friends, so you are forced to make new ones. You have a clean slate, the ability to show people who you are, and an opportunity to be you and have a new group of people to be around. You can escape the high school drama, and even though you see people you went to school with having a blast, you can also see that you have come further than you would have close to home.
You don't have the luxury of calling up your friend who lives ten minutes down the road when you attend a school over an hour away. Without there being people you know around you constantly, you have to work for what you want. If you want there to be people you can rely on, you have to make connections and form relationships with those around you.
During orientation, you are put in groups of people that you do different tasks with throughout the first couple days.
You get to know them and their interests. This leads to forming friendships with those who just so happened to live down the hall from you, opening doors (literally and metaphorically) to new adventures. I was living in a whole new city. There was a world out there to be explored, and my new friends were right there ready to explore with me.
Another thing this allowed me to do was be distanced from my home safety net. I didn't have family to turn to if I went down the hall or twenty minutes away. The closest relatives were an hour away, as well, so I had to learn to fend for myself. There wasn't anyone telling me what to do, so I had to make the decision to stay in and work on homework even if my friends were going out that night.
One of the best things that could have happened to me while attending Aquinas College was lacrosse.
I was lucky enough to get to know and make friends with some of the girls on the team, and will be forever grateful to them for convincing me to try out during fall ball. I never thought I would play a collegiate sport, but I'm glad I did. Being on a team, you connect with other players, and through them you are able to branch out more and more. Through this experience, I was able to see how wonderful it is to find your own way though things and be proud of your accomplishments.
To all of you high school students trying to decide where you want to go, try not to worry too much. Don't feel like you have to go somewhere because your friend goes there, or because your significant other attends or will be attending the same school. Wherever you end up, there will be professors, students, and activities waiting for you, even if you don't know anything about them yet.
It is okay to go to a college close to home or far away. If you choose to go to a place where you don't know anyone, it will be different, but different is a good thing. Pick a place that fits you, not those you have chosen to surround yourself with throughout the years.
Then once you have made your decision, embrace it, and make the most of everything this new opportunity has to offer.